Today, we are going to see how to repair or replace a catalytic converter. We shall also look at how to repair it, incase you don’t have money to replace it. But before we start, let’s quickly look at what a catalytic converter does to a car.
By using chemical reactions, catalytic converters turn toxic substances in a car’s exhaust gasses including carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and hydrocarbons into less dangerous molecules like carbon dioxide and water vapour.
Having see the usefulness of a catalytic converter, let”s now see the symptoms of a bad catalytic converter, so when you see these symptoms you know, it has gone bad.
Symptoms of a bad Catalytic Converter
- Reduced Acceleration
- Sluggish engine performance
- Excessive heat under the vehicle
- Smell of rotten egg from the exhaust
The moment you start seeing these sighs, know that your catalytic converter needs to be changed or replaced. Let’s now look at how to replace a bad catalytic converter.
How to replace a catalytic converter
Raise the vehicle high enough for you to get underneath and operate comfortably, preferably from both the front and back. Spray all of the nuts and bolts that need to come out liberally on the pipes and parts that need to come out. Before you start wrenching on anything, give the penetrating oil some time to work.
Remove the O2 sensors from the catalytic converter by disconnecting and removing them. Most cars made after 1996 will have two sensors, one before and one after the converter. You can leave the sensors attached, but doing so may cause damage to the cables during removal and reinstallation. Connect the sensors and tuck them out of the way once they’ve been removed.
Remove the catalytic converter that isn’t working. It may be welded in, welded on one side and flanged on the other, or flanged on both ends, depending on whether it’s OEM or not, and/or how old the car is. Cutouts will be required for welded converters. This can be done with a cut-off wheel grinder, a hacksaw/reciprocating saw, a pipe cutter, or a torch. While doing so, make sure you’re wearing the right personal protection equipment.
If the manifold/muffler/exhaust pipe is equipped, carefully clean the flanges with a sanding block or gasket cleaner on a drill. If you’ve removed the converter, use sandpaper or a file to deburr the pipe ends. Use a Brillo or SOS pad around the outer circle of pipes that will be slipping into others to assist them seal when you’re finished. Small rust defects are frequently enough to cause exhaust leaks.
Remove any remaining exhaust and hangers that need to be replaced.
Compare the new converter’s pipe size to the previous pipe’s size. If they don’t glide together, you’ll need to swage (expand) or shrink one of them (using the pipe expander tool). If the pipes differ in size by more than an eighth of an inch or so, this may be important to ensure that they seal together when you’re finished. This is accomplished by inserting the appropriate size expander into the piping that needs to be expanded and rotating the tool’s bolt clockwise until the pipe is large enough to glide over the other pipe without resistance.
Install any new exhaust pipes before the new catalytic converter is installed. Don’t forget to replace the gaskets. Replace the hangers with the new ones. Use anti-seize on all of the nuts and/or studs to make servicing the exhaust easier in the future.
Install the replacement converter after making sure the flow direction is correct and installing new donut gaskets. Keep in mind that they are directional, and inserting the new one backwards will almost certainly ruin it. The O2 sensors should be reinstalled and connected.
Check for leaks after starting the engine. Then admire what you’ve accomplished!
How much does it cost to replace catalytic converters?
If you are planning on buying and replacing your car’s faulty catalytic converter, you need between $500 to $2000. However, if you don’t have this amount you can think of repairing it. Let’s look at ways to repair a catalytic converter.
How To Repair A Catalytic Converter
There are many ways you can use to repair a faulty catalytic converter, if you don’t have money to replace it. Let’s consider it step by step.
There are a variety of fuel additives available to assist your engine run cleaner which will also help clean a clogged catalytic converter. When you go to the gas station, you’ll most likely have three options for fuel: ordinary, premium, and some form of super premium gasoline. The reason certain fuels are more expensive is because they contain fuel line additives that will help your engine function more smoothly. That isn’t just a ruse to defraud you; those items truly work. If you’re having difficulties with your catalytic converter, try running a couple tanks of high-quality gas through it. Use better grade gasoline for the next two or three fill-ups, or just buy a bottle of cleaning that can help clean out your catalytic converter while you’re driving and pour it into the tank as well.
You may not have heard of it before, and it’s certainly not a manufacturer-approved method of repairing a vehicle problem, but some drivers use what they call a “Italian tune-up” to cure problems with their vehicles, which can include a problem with the catalytic converter.
As it turns out, many drivers prefer to travel in the city at low speeds, never pushing their car hard enough to reach the catalytic converter’s most efficient operating temperature. The ideal operating temperature for your catalytic converter is between 800 and 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 426 degrees Fahrenheit and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. To be sure, it’s scorching hot, but that’s exactly what your catalytic converter is intended to be doing. If you drive your car gently all of the time, your converter will not reach such temperatures, which might lead to premature failure because it won’t be able to function properly.
When you give your automobile an Italian tune up, you push it to its limits for at least a few miles. That is, you take it out on a stretch of open road and slam on the gas. Get it up to a respectable top speed, then let off the gas for a minute before resuming. It’s feasible to heat up your converter sufficiently to burn off some of the deposits in the intake, cylinder heads, oxygen sensors, throughout your exhaust, and into the catalytic converter if you do this a few times in a row, ensuring that your engine is operating as hard as it can.
This isn’t a foolproof remedy, and it won’t work if your converter is too badly clogged, but if you’ve only recently started having troubles, it might be worth a shot. Just remember that if you’re going to try this, you should do so safely. You should not be exceeding any speed restrictions or endangering yourself or other drivers.
Old Method Cleaning
The best way to clean your catalytic converter is to remove it and use a pressure washer to remove all of the pollutants that have accumulated inside. All you have to do now is flush it from both ends to guarantee maximum coverage, and you should see some improvements.
Alternatively, you might soak your catalytic converter overnight in hot water with a normal degreaser or laundry detergent for a deeper clean. Something that is made to dissolve thick grease buildup. Obviously, this will take longer, but if you’re done driving for the night and have some spare time, it wouldn’t hurt to soak it, then power wash it, and make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back in place.
This is how far, I will like to go on this article and I hope you have learnt new things on how to repair or replace a catalytic converter. If you can’t do any of these yourself, do well to get a good mechanic who will help you with the job.